Girls: A History of Growing Up Female in America Discussion Guide
By Penny Colman
For her book: Girls: A History of Growing Up Female in America
192 pages, 131 images, author's note, selected sources, index
It's a Girl: Understanding Gender
By Land and Sea: How Girls Came to America
In Their Mother's Footsteps: Girls in the Early Colonial Period
New Ideas: Girls in the Late Colonial Period
Making Demands: Girls in the Early Nineteenth Century
Diverse Lives; Girls in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
New Opportunities: Girls in the Late Nineteenth Century
"Prize It!": Girls in the Early Twentieth Century
Changes and Challenges; Girls in the Mid-Twentieth Century
Unprecedented Possibilities: Girls Approaching the Millennium
"A terrific book — serious, informative, accessible, and often very moving."
Linda K. Kerber, University of Iowa
"A fascinating look at a seldom-studied topic."
School Library Journal
Contact Penny Colman at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do a nonfiction genre study. See: www.pennycolman.com.
- Select a girl in Girls. Write at least six questions that you would like to ask her. Explain why you selected her and why you wrote each question.
- Read the last paragraph on p. 14. Express your opinion about what growing up female means today in an essay, article, or a poem.
- Carolyn Richards listed artifacts — objects — in her diary that were part of her life (pp. 97–100). Create a mural with scenes from Carolyn's diary that include some of these objects.
- Make a women's history display. See picture on p. 170.
Drama and Movement
- Select and dramatize a scene from the book.
- Read the words to "Naranja Dulce" (p. 13) and create your own dance.
- Identify contemporary songs that deal with experiences of growing up female. Explore the impact of these songs on people's attitudes and behavior.
- Collect an oral history from a woman in your family or community. See: www.dohistory.org
- Identify and analyze the primary source documents. See: www.dohistory.org
- Select four pictures. Write captions in which you tell why you picked the image.
- Discuss the periodization.
- Locate places that are mentioned in the text on a U.S. map. When a girl's name is associated with the place, include her name on the map.
- Make a timeline based on the events in Girls.
- Figure out where a picture of you and at least two of your friends and family members would go in the text. See: pp. 159 and 171.
- Write a new caption for the picture on p. 179 that includes a description of the objects in the picture.
- Create a display of the careers in science.
- Discuss the controversy about bicycle riding (pp. 112–113). Generate a list of other controversies about what females can and can't do.
- Read Yvonne Blue's diary excerpts (pp. 143–145). What would you say to her? Was her teacher's lecture helpful?
- U.S. History
- U.S. Women's History
- Primary Source Documents
- Visual Literary
- Growing Up
Use the index to locate text and images on various themes, including: education, child labor, fashion, gender immigrants, slavery, sports, suffrage movement, war, women's rights, and work.
Use the Author's Note for units on research and sources.
Note to Readers
Among the 131 images, you'll find a picture of me as a young girl on page 159 and of my sister on page 171. This is my invitation to readers of all ages to insert their own pictures and stories into the text. Since the book is chronological, you can easily situate yourself and your relatives and friends into this true story of growing up female in America.
My vision is of an accordion, as you make Girls: A History of Growing Up Female in America get fatter and fatter. My message is: We are all history makers!